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Facial Recognition Software Used Against Rioters
Looters take electrical goods after breaking into a store during the second night of civil disturbances in central Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. (AP)

Looters take electrical goods after breaking into a store during the second night of civil disturbances in central Birmingham, England, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011. (AP)

Police in London are now using facial recognition software to identify suspects in the wake of the worst-in-a-generation riots that rocked the U.K. this month, officials announced this week. Scotland Yard’s new software is also being considered for use at the 2012 Olympic Games, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Recently, we took a look at how police departments in the U.S. are beginning to use similar technology and what it means for the future of our liberties.

You can hear more of our coverage of the London riots here.

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  • Artistnatural

    It begins to look like each country has an associated level of technology and a corresponding level necessary workers.  Thus if a country has a achived a certain technological level it only needs a certain level of skilled workers to fill the available jobs.  The rioters need to understand they are just “surplus people” the British economy no longer needs.

  • Ellen Dibble

    In listening to the debate on Thursday over the internet from the House of Commons as to the disorders over the previous five days, this facial recognition issue was addressed as the issue of “face covering,” and whether “policing by consent,” which is the British way, would tolerate legislation/rules that forbid face coverings at certain times (a face-covering curfew or such) or at certain places.  Another idea was that the police could skip the kind of permission gathering that would be like American police getting a signed judicial permission to search a house.  Or maybe more like permission to pat-frisk.  If somebody down the road has a mask, can the police yell out, un-mask yourself or I’ll detain you?   (Will LLBean start offering cellophane balaclavas for people traveling to England in winter?)
        It seems in the last great disruption the ones who found themselves “in the dock” were the police, for having deployed too many “rounds” of the baton.  And it was noted in the debate that though hosing with purple-dye water has advantages in use on crowds, the recent disorders have not for the most part involved crowds.  They did not speak of what happens when the perpetrators are wearing video cameras on their caps to record police behavior.
       But the sense of un-ease about safety was rampant.  A culture of violence was cited.  Parents who “don’t know where their children are.” Cameron called the issue “rights without responsibility,” and the human rights act in the UK has apparently slowed the batons of the police and the rendered parents impotent in disciplining their children, but very few spoke of actually giving responsibility to the young, just “keeping them busy,” especially during the summer when jobs are scarce.  Gangs, they say, and flash-mobilized opportunists, with trains, and buses, and cars brought marauders place to place, not jalopies but “souped-up” vehicles, and the things stolen were the highest-end handbags, the costliest jewels, in general.  “How do you deal with a neighbor who suddenly has come into ownership of three new TV’s” one MP asked.

  • Okitaris

    I’ve learned not to trust government or any one with power or money.   We have built our government around secrecy and now it is secrecy on steroids.   It has been a cover up sense Kennedy   

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